Nearly 70 percent of consumers rely on online reviews before making a purchase, according to a 2015 survey of 2,000 U.S. adults by Mintel. This stat alone should explain why new roles have emerged in marketing organizations across the country — ones that address growing evidence of the power shift from marketers and advertisers to an increasingly savvy consumer on social media.
Online Reputation Management (ORM) has become an essential skill for modern marketing departments as they struggle to monitor and respond to reviews and social posts on a growing number of sites and networks.
Reviews and star ratings are displayed prominently on search engine results and can quickly reinforce a customer’s opinion about a product or service, or drive them to a competitor. Millennials — a rapidly growing audience for major industries such as healthcare, automotive and retail — are twice as likely as boomers to trust reviews over word of mouth. And the first 10 reviews your business gets boost it from the second page of search results to the top half of the first page.
Companies Hurry to Fill the Skills Gap
Most organizations still don’t have the necessary skills and expertise to grapple with managing reviews and social engagement across the vast array of online channels, and companies are rushing to fill the skills gap. Research from SiriusDecisions underscores the shift that B2B companies are making toward inbound marketing as a core strategy, and the need for more inbound marketing talent.
A recent report from Capgemini Consulting indicates more than 90 percent of businesses believe their employees don’t have the skills they need in fields related to digital marketing, such as social media, mobile marketing, internal social networks, and performance monitoring and analysis.
To that end, job postings that center around ORM and customer experience are popping up on every major job board. A quick keyword search on Monster, Glassdoor and Indeed yields the following:
- Digital Reputation Specialist: “Responsible for monitoring and responding to property reviews posted on social media channels. This person will communicate with the appropriate management teams to ensure issues and inquiries are handled quickly, diplomatically and effectively.”
- Reputation Management Specialist: “Critical to the success of the organization and an important advocate and key executor of driving action plans to meet and/or exceed Global Member Services and corporate objectives and reputation.”
- Online Reputation Marketing Manager: “Leverage influence of Customer/User Reviews for Marketing purpose. Manage customer interactive channels (reviews, communities and social) to build and manage a strong customer relationship with [company].”
- Managing Supervisor, Corporate Reputation: “Work in a fast-paced environment with collaborative teams on corporate storytelling and media relations, brand-building, reputation management, corporate social responsibility initiatives and multi-stakeholder communications.”
That’s just a sampling. Other roles related to ORM include Social Media Marketing Director, Director of Digital and Social Media, and Digital and Social Media Specialist. Online Reputation Management also appears as a desired skill or area of expertise in many listings for other marketing positions.
ORM at the Executive Level
Importantly, the title Chief Experience Officer, or CXO, is appearing more frequently, highlighting the need for an executive-level position in charge of making sure the user experience is consistent and manageable from engagement to end-of-business. According to MIT Technology Review, new technologies enable marketing organizations to become more efficient and effective, resulting in a “blurring” between functional disciplines:
The CMO may now be called the "chief engagement officer" or "chief customer officer" to signal a shift in priorities. Roles akin to product manager, customer insights manager, PR manager, and advertising director are the spokes and rim of the wheel around the CMO, who is the hub and coordinator.
And Scott Brinker, author of the Chief Marketing Technologist blog, says technology is increasingly intertwined with marketing, through websites, mobile apps, social media and other interactive channels, leading to the appearance of the “Marketing Technologist” in modern marketing organizations.
Seizing the New Marketing Opportunity
As evidenced by the number of emerging roles and required skillsets, ORM has become a core part of an enterprise organization’s marketing strategy. But simply managing reputation is no longer enough — the practice of monitoring and responding to mentions, comments, reviews and recommendations across an expanding social universe is an opportunity for brands and businesses to create differentiation through reputation marketing.
This requires a shift from thinking reactively (to bad reviews or PR crises) to engaging proactively with target audiences through review requests, social networks and online forums to create community and customer advocacy.
As Forbes contributor Steve Olenski said, we should be “seizing this moment of seismic change in what attracts and influences customers to our brands and businesses.”
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